UK confectionery and snacks group Zetar is looking to secure another domestic acquisition in the next year and will then cast its eyes on Europe, its chief executive said today (24 July).

Ian Blackburn told just-food this morning that Zetar is looking to expand the business through acquisitions after reporting healthy financial results over the last 12 months.

“By the end of the next financial year, we aim to make one more acquisition, which, it is fair to say, would be UK-based,” Blackburn said. “We will then focus our attention on finding something on the continent.”

Earlier today, Zetar, which is building a stable of healthier snacks and confectionery products, posted a 55% jump in operating profit to GBP7.6m (US$15.7m) during the year to 30 April. Turnover also soared, up 64% to GBP94.9m.

Acquisitions gave a boost to Zetar’s results; in the last year, the company has bought Salamander and Humdinger, two businesses that drove snack sales, which now account for a third of Zetar’s turnover. In May, Zetar also bought UK snack food firm Britannia.

Blackburn is looking to give a more “European dimension” to the company as it begins to build relationships with retailers on the continent. Zetar has just struck a deal to supply French retail giant Carrefour and Blackburn said a direct presence in Europe would strengthen the company’s hand on the continent.

“Our volumes will remain pretty small unless we have distribution there,” Blackburn said. “I’m talking about France and the Benelux because they are markets closer to home. Also, we do share similarities in our desire for better-for-you products and both markets are moving towards convenience snacking.”

Blackburn remains upbeat about Zetar’s prospects for organic growth. The company is investing GBP3m this year on expanding production capacity to meet growing demand from retailers, particularly for “premium and indulgent” private-label products, Blackburn added.